Permission to proceed granted in judicial review of proposed development of St. Fittick’s Park in Aberdeen

The Court of Session has today granted permission to proceed in a judicial review for a client in Torry, Aberdeen, challenging the decision by Aberdeen City Council (ACC) to possibly industrialise St. Fittick’s Park as part of its Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) plan for the city.

Lord Fairley allowed the petition to proceed under two distinct legal challenges:

(1) That the respondent failed to exercise its duties under section 149 of the 2010 Equality Act before agreeing its policy decision in relation to the proposed lease and development of the Park for industrial purposes on 11 September 2023 and failed to carry out an EQIA which satisfied the requirements of the 2012 Regulations before making its policy decision on 11 September 2023; and

(2) That the respondent’s policy decision of 11 September 2023 in relation to the Park was vitiated by apparent bias on the part of Councillor Christian Allard and his party group members in relation to their personal interest or apparent interest in ETZ Ltd, which is a company pursuing a live planning proposal of application notice in relation to the Park, notice reference 230707/PAN.

A third separate ground of challenge, in relation to fettered discretion and irrationality, was not permitted to proceed.

Local campaigners believe the loss of the park will have an adverse impact on the health, wellbeing and amenity of local people. In December 2021, 22 medical doctors from across Aberdeen published an open letter expressing their concern over the loss of the Park for local people. The doctors drew a comparison between the Aberdeen area of West End North, where the residents of two streets have exclusive access to 15 acres of mature riverside woodland, and the residents of the Torry community and said:

“There is a 13-year difference in life expectancy between these two areas …The difference in healthy life expectancy is around twenty years. There is an eight-fold increase in the risk for someone in Torry being admitted to hospital with complications of chronic lung disease … Torry has a higher proportion of young people and children living in it … there is a significantly higher proportion of dependent children per household than in the rest of the city, and more often in single parent households. Child poverty is accordingly high. Access to private transport is less common in the area and access to distant green space is thus much more difficult.”

The petition will now proceed to a substantive hearing on the merits.

GLC’s Solicitor Advocate Mike Dailly is instructed with Charis Brooks, Solicitor acting for our client and Laura McDonagh, Partner at Drummond Miller LLP acting as Edinburgh agents. The respondent is represented by Neill Maclean, Partner and Solicitor Advocate at Brodies LLP. Thanks to Hannah Moneagle, Solicitor and environmental justice campaigner for her assistance in this matter.

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